Source: United States House of Representatives – Alaska Congressman Don Young
Washington, D.C. – This week, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) released a report following a fact-finding investigation into the effects of COVID-19 on the cruise industry in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. Among other conclusions, the report determined that per-capita, Alaska’s travel and tourism industry has been impacted more than any other state in the Union. The full report stated:
“Of all three of the states examined, Alaska stands out as the most significantly impacted. While actual dollar figures may not match the levels of areas previously studied or about to be studied, the relative per capita impact is perhaps the most significant of any state in the Union. Alaska has three basic industries, energy, fishing, and tourism. It can be stated without equivocation that Alaska’s tourist industry is inextricably tied to the cruise industry. Tourists arrive in Alaska either by air or by sea and most who arrive by air find themselves on a cruise at some point in their journey. As the reports of the individual ports presented in this study show, the loss of an entire cruise season has led to the loss of an entire year’s revenue for a disproportionate number of Alaskans compared to far more populace and less remote states where alternative forms of income generation may be found.”
Following the report’s release, Alaska Congressman Don Young, senior Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, issued the following statement:
“Alaska’s tourism industry is one of the main pillars of our state’s economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the families and businesses whose livelihoods depend on the 2.2 million annual visitors to our state, of which 1.4 million were projected to travel to Alaska by cruise ship in 2020,” said Congressman Don Young. “Alaskans know that the biggest driver of our tourism sector is the cruise industry. This pandemic has caused our state and its port cities to lose an entire cruise season, and with it, a full year of revenue. Our family-run businesses, which largely operate on a seasonal basis, are suffering. There is no question that we must continue to manage this virus and ensure that our state can safely reopen. Simply put, Americans must feel comfortable returning to Alaska.
While a successful 2021 cruise season represents enormous potential for economic recovery, additional relief for these businesses is needed immediately. The CARES Act provided significant relief to Alaskans, but we cannot wait any longer if our tourism sector is to survive. Several pieces of legislation, many with broad bipartisan support, will provide relief to states and businesses most impacted by COVID-19. Congress should start by passing H.R 8265, which will reopen and extend the Paycheck Protection Program so that Alaskan businesses can access additional relief to make it through the winter. Secondly, Congress must pass H.R. 8345, the Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act, which would extend the successful Payroll Support Program for six months to sustain robust national air service and protect our aviation workforce. Finally, Congress must address the severe economic consequences the virus has inflicted on other modes of transportation impacted by the loss of the 2020 cruise season. I call on House leadership to bring H.R. 7642, the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services Act, for a vote. Alaska’s small U.S. flagged passenger vessels and motorcoach operators are key components of our tourism economy, and employ hundreds of hardworking Alaskans. These transportation providers are integral, and will be on the front lines as our economy recovers during the next tourist season.”
H.R. 7642, the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services Act, currently has robust bipartisan support from 259 House cosponsors. This bill would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding, in the form of grants and other economic assistance initiatives. The funding created by this legislation would be distributed to motorcoach operators, school bus companies, U.S. flagged passenger vessel operators, and other transportation service providers designated by the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation.